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The virgin birth (conception) of Jesus

Beliefs of conservative Christians and Muslims

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Beliefs of conservative Protestants:

Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Christians believe that Biblical passages should normally be interpreted literally where possible. They believe that the Bible's authors were inspired by God and thus wrote material that is inerrant (free of any error) in their original, autograph, copy. Thus, when the gospels attributed to Matthew and Luke both describe Jesus' mother as being a virgin when Jesus was conceived, there is essentially no room for further debate. Jesus' conception must have happened in precisely that manner. Jesus was a product of Mary and the Holy Spirit. The:

bulletLack of any mention of the virgin birth by the author of the Gospel of Mark and
bulletThe apparent denials of any special status of Jesus' birth in the Gospel of John, and in the writings of Paul,

do not deny the virgin birth. The authors simply might not have found it sufficiently important to mention. 

Christin Ditchfield, host of the radio program Take It To Heart answered an E-mailed question that asked whether there was any proof of the virgin birth. She replied:

"In the New Testament, the Greek word used to describe Mary can only be translated 'virgin'—it has no other meaning. So when the Scriptures tell us that an angel appeared to a virgin named Mary, that he told her the Holy Spirit would come upon her, and that the child conceived in her would be the Messiah, we know what he's describing is a miraculous event. ..."

"So the answer to your question is 'yes' -- if you accept the Bible as the inspired Word of God, if you believe what it says is true. If you don't, no amount of Scripture will convince you. In the end, it all comes down to faith. Approach the Scriptures with an open heart and mind, and an earnest desire to discover the Truth, and God will reveal Himself to you through the pages of His Word." 1

Some additional strong indicators of Jesus' virginal conception are:

bulletIts acceptance among almost all of the Christian groups from the second century onward.
bulletIts acceptance by the the Nicene Creed and Apostle's Creed.
bulletBoth the author of the Gospel of Matthew and Luke describe it.
bulletThe Gospel of Matthew refers to the virgin birth as fulfilling a prophecy of Isaiah in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).
bulletIn Galatians 4:4, Paul refers to Jesus as having been: "... made of a woman, made under the law ..." In the culture of the time, women had relatively low status. The normal practice was to refer to a child's father only, and not even mention the mother. This might support the belief that Jesus had no human father; if Jesus had, then he would have been mentioned.

An article on the virgin birth in Wikipedia 2 mentions that Raymond E. Brown 3 and other conservative New Testament scholars who note that a pattern exists in the books of the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) The earliest books to be written were Paul's epistles. They concentrated on Jesus' death and resurrection. The Gospels were written later, and discussed Jesus' teachings and acts more fully. Only later was attention given "... for reasons not only of curiosity but also of apologetics and theology ... to the birth and infancy as in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The absence of reference in Paul's writings to the infancy and even the ministry of Jesus may be seen as fitting this pattern."

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The virgin birth within Islam:

The Qur'an is accepted by Muslims as the direct words of God, dictated by an Archangel to the prophet Muhammad (pbuh). They call the mother of Jesus by the name Miriam, which was probably her original name. The Qur'an has two references to Mary's virginal status at the conception of Jesus (pbuh):

bulletSura 19:7 to 21 contains a birth narrative.
bulletSura 21:91 confirms her virginity.

However, Muslims regard Jesus as a great prophet, not as the "Son of God," and definitely not as a member of the Trinity. They regard God (a.k.a. Allah) as a single entity, indivisible. They would regard a Son of God to be a person who was actually procreated by God. Sura 5:75 states that this is impossible. They regard any suggestion that God is not a single indivisible entity to be the ultimate blasphemy.

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References used:

  1. Christin Ditchfield, "Virgin Facts," Christianity Today article, 2005-NOV/DEC, at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/
  2. "Virgin birth of Jesus," Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  3. Raymond E. Brown, "The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke," Yale University Press, (1999), Pages 26-28. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

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Home page > Christianity > Chr. history... > Chr. beliefsVirgin Birth > here

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Copyright © 1996 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Essay last updated: 2008-APR-05
Written by: B.A. Robinson

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